Exiting The Anthropocene and Entering The Symbiocene.

Mushroom IMG_3441

Exiting The Anthropocene

It has been proposed that humans are now living within a period of the Earth’s history appropriately named ‘The Anthropocene’ (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). The name is derived from the observed human influence and indeed dominance of all climatic, biophysical and evolutionary processes occurring at a planetary scale. The issue is not simply climate change (as bad as that is) it is the whole Capitalist development paradigm that is at the dark heart of mal-development; that is, development that undermines and destroys the very foundations of all life on Earth.

Gone is the relative stability and predictability of the past 12,000 years as the established patterns and regularity of Holocene phenology begin to fall into chaos. While some cosmic constants remain such as the cycles of day and night, the moon’s influence on the tides, the date of the solstices and the length of time the Earth takes to go around the sun, many other patterns and rhythms of Earth phenology are undergoing major change. A rapidly heating climate puts things out of whack. Synchronicity and timing are all important and when, for example, the instinctual migration of mammals and birds tied to ‘locked in’ global rhythms and patterns fails to coincide (trophic mismatches) with the great warming-accelerated flourishing, flowering and fruiting of once reliable food supplies … death and extinction follow.

In the Anthropocene, the so-called ‘new normal’, or what I prefer to conceptualise as ‘the new abnormal’, life will be characterised by uncertainty, unpredictability, genuine chaos and relentless change. Earth distress, as manifest in global warming, changing climates, erratic weather, acidifying oceans, disease pandemics, species endangerment and extinction, bioaccumulation of toxins and the overwhelming physical impact of exponentially-expanding human development will have its correlates in human physical and mental distress. I have written about solastalgia or the lived experience of negative environmental change as one emergent form of mental distress (Albrecht 2012a, Albrecht 2012b).

We need to get rid of the foundations of the concept of the Anthropocene before it covers many more decades of history of Earth. If all of the above are the outcome of human dominance of the planet, then I do not wish to be identified with The Anthropocene. I want this period in history to become redundant as soon as possible since, the longer it prevails, the more likely we will suffer catastrophic failure as a species here on Earth. While this would be a tragedy of huge proportion for humans, we will take with us thousands, perhaps millions, of other species as well. Popular literature and film already portray such an apocalyptic turn in human-nature relationships

While we have already tried to build a new and viable society around concepts such as democracy, sustainability, sustainable development and resilience, all these terms have been corrupted by forces determined to incorporate and embed them into the Anthropocene where they become ‘business as usual’. ‘Sustainability’ is inadequate as a concept because it does not specify what is to be sustained and over what time frame it is to be sustained. ‘Sustainable development’, equally, fails to define what it is about development that is to be sustained … except perhaps, development itself (Albrecht 1994). Yet, global-scale development which is diametrically opposed to micro-life and planetary-scale forces puts us on the path to dislocation then extinction.

The concept of ‘resilience’ (Holling 2001, Walker and Salt 2006) has also been appropriated by forces determined to pull it into the gravitational influence of toxic industrial society on a globalised scale. Instead of helping us rebound into configurations of successful models of living after disturbance, we are now seeing complex adaptive systems and ‘resilience’ being used to justify the ongoing existence of processes and activities that are driving humans to disease and extinction. Coal, oil and gas fracking industries now use their public relations departments to spin the message that their industries are not only sustainable, but ‘healthy’ and resilient as well. The ongoing ‘resilience’ of technically non-sustainable and undesirable features of social systems are more correctly termed “negative resilience” (Gallopín, 2006) or “perverse resilience” (Holling 2001, Ráez-Luna, 2008). These forms of resilience occur where pathological social relationships that are oppressive and exploitative of humans and ecosystems (life) are rendered resistant to change by economic and political subsidies (donations and corruption), political support, bullying, actual violence, terrorism and vested interests.

Dominance by powerful vested interests has also become characteristic of what is called democracy. Rule by the people (demos) has become corrupted by rule (kratos) by the powerful (oligarchy or plutocracy). It’s worse than that; Capitalism is now run by what can be technically called corruption. Corporations and oligarchs (authoritarians) use their power and influence to buy policy and manipulate or minimise regulation. It is this form of ‘government’ that is blatant in most parts of the world but more powerful if not more subtle in the so-called advanced countries of the Western World.

We could call this form of political-economy Corruptalism (Cohen 1993) or what I prefer to call ‘Corrumpalism’ (from the Latin corrumpere ‘to destroy’). I define Corrumpalism as the ability to corrupt and destroy the integrity of a social system and its biophysical foundation by perverting all forms of development via the use of mis-information, falsehoods, money and/or violence to achieve self-interested outcomes that are the opposite of cultural and ecological interests. We are seeing Corrumpalism played out in a public way with the recent VW scandal, the FIFA scandal, Olympics scandal, the Exxon climate change scandal, the ISIS oil scandal and many more worldwide from intensely local to global scales. There can be no ‘Good Anthropocene’ given the corruption that has already taken place.

In order to counter all these negative trends within The Anthropocene we clearly need, within popular politics and culture, visions and memes of a different future. To get the detail into these visions, we will need more novel conceptual development, since the foundation on which we are building right now is seriously flawed and conducive of nothing but great waves of ennui, grief, dread, solastalgia, mourning and melancholia. We must rapidly exit The Anthropocene with its non-sustainability, perverse resilience, authoritarianism and its corrumpalism. The new foundation, built around a new meme, will need to be an act of positive creation.

Entering The Symbiocene

I argue that the next era in human history should be The Symbiocene (from the Greek sumbiosis, or companionship). I created this concept in 2011 as an almost instinctive reaction again the very idea of the Anthropocene (Albrecht 2011). The scientific meaning of the word ‘symbiosis’ implies living together for mutual benefit and I wish to use this profoundly important concept as the basis for what I hope will be the next period of Earth history. As a core aspect of ecological and evolutionary thinking, symbiosis and its associated symbiogenesis, affirms the interconnectedness of life and all living things (Scofield and Margulis 2012).

As many thinkers have pointed out, such interconnection and interaction puts humans back into the community of life and resists the Hobbesian and Spencerian views of nature as essentially hostile and a competitive war of all against all. No doubt, conflict between organisms exists, but an overall balance of interests (eco-homeostasis) is in the total interest of all life. In addition, ecology itself is a radical concept in that it requires of us all to live within the limits of nature and to live with all the other life forms that share this home we call the Earth. In this contemporary historic moment of our appreciation of the threat of global warming, one the earliest thinkers to warn us of its dangers (in 1962), Murray Bookchin, summarised cogently what an ecological understanding of the world means and what it does to our understanding of our place within it:

The critical edge of ecology, a unique feature of the science in a period of general scientific docility, derives from its subject matter – from its very domain. The issues with which ecology deals are imperishable in the sense that they cannot be ignored without bringing into question the survival of man and the survival of the planet itself. The critical edge of ecology is due not so much to the power of human reason – a power which science hallowed during its most revolutionary periods – but to a still higher power, the sovereignty of nature … ecology clearly shows the totality of the natural world – nature viewed in all its aspects, cycles and interrelationships – cancels out human pretensions to mastery over the planet (Bookchin 1971:59)

As a scientific term, symbiosis has been used to give substance to the nature of the interactions between different organisms living in close physical association. For example, the relatively recent discovery of immense mutually beneficial associations of macrofungi with flowering plants in complex positive metabolic symbiotic relationship to each other in ecosystems all over the world has already overturned the dominance of the ‘Darwinian’ view of life as solely founded on competitive struggle between species (Scofield and Margulis 2012, Albrecht 2001).

We are now closer to understanding how ecosystem parameters can be guided by key players in the system to maximise benefits for the life-chances of whole species. In essence, there is a form of ‘natural justice’ that prevails. We now know that, for example, health in all forest ecosystems is regulated by what are called “mother trees” that control fungal networks that in turn interconnect trees of varying ages. The control system works to regulate nutrient flows to trees, such as to the very young, that need them most (Simard et al 2015). It also works to transfer information and energy from dying species to those that might continue to thrive, thus maintaining ‘the forest’ (see Fraser 2015). These crucially important insights have yet to be incorporated into ecological thinking applied to politics and human societies.

Given that forest ecosystems are foundational for most life on Earth, including humans, the so-called ‘wood-wide-web’ is now a prime example of natural justice and the attempt to maintain ‘balance’ or total homeostasis in nature where the early insights of Kropotkin in Mutual Aid (1902) find contemporary scientific validation. Cooperation and mutual aid can now be reinstated as an evolutionary foundation of life and crucial for all aspects of human enterprise. Kropotkin wrote:

In the practice of mutual aid, which can be traced to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support – not mutual struggle – has had the leading part (Kropotkin 1987:234).

Imagining The Symbiocene

Let us now try to imagine The Symbiocene and the politics of how it might function. The new era will be characterised by human intelligence that replicates the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing life-reproducing forms and processes found in living systems. Given that we have evolved as a species within the pre-existing evolutionary matrix, such intelligence lies within us as latent potential. The elements include, full recyclability of all inputs and outputs, the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of human enterprise, safe and socially-just renewable energy and full and harmonious integration of human industry and technology with physical and living systems at all scales.

In The Symbiocene, human action, culture and enterprise will be exemplified by those cumulative types of relationships and attributes nurtured by humans that enhance mutual interdependence and mutual benefit for all living beings (desirable), all species (essential) and the health of all ecosystems (mandatory). Human development will consist of creative actions that use the very best of biomimicry together with other eco-industrial, eco-technological, eco-agricultural and eco-cultural innovation. Human psychology will be fully nurtured within The Symbiocene (Albrecht 2014).

However, beyond biomimicry we must also have symbiomimicry. Many simply think it is enough to copy the shapes and form of life, but they make no connection to life’s processes. We don’t just copy the form of life, we replicate in all types of human creativity, the processes of life that make the mutually beneficial associations between different life forms strong and healthy. Examples such as the ‘wood-wide-web’ suggest to me that organising resources and processes so that the young, weak and vulnerable get their fair share in order that the totality has the greatest chance of survival and flourishing is fundamental to life. Symbiomimicry in human enterprise will both generate and distribute resources such that, in nurturing all humans, we nurture the life support system on which we all depend.

The geological proof of the presence of The Symbiocene will be the observed gradual disappearance of The Anthropocene as the Earth is cleansed of its toxic legacy and the background rate of global extinction and evolution resumes. In what I hope will be a relatively short period of time (decades? hundreds of years?) there will be a point in human evolution when every element of human culture, habitat and technology will be able to be fully re-integrated back into life and its cycles and processes. From that point onward, within the youngest geological strata, there will hardly be a distinctively human presence left on this Earth. All that will be left to fossilise will be the bones and teeth of people who lived within The Symbiocene.

Sumbiocracy

As we build The Symbiocene we shall also build a new political system I call Sumbiocracy (from the Greek sumbiosis, from sumbioun, to live together, from sumbios, living together). I define Sumbiocracy as rule determined by the type and totality of mutually beneficial or benign relationships in a given socio-biological system at all scales (mutualism).

The basic idea here is that if the processes that nurture ecosystems and biomes are identified, protected and conserved, species within such healthy ecosystems will also flourish. We therefore do not need to further democratise a failing ‘biased’ democracy with, say, a Deep Ecology ‘council of all beings’ approach where species’ interests are ‘represented’ in decision-making structures by well-meaning humans. Rather, we need to elect people to govern who understand and affirm life-supporting organic form, process and relationships such that they can deliberate on creative proposals from humans.

If, for example, an aspect of human development is known to have a long-term toxic impact on a basic life process such as metabolism, then it simply cannot be permitted to take place or if it is already being undertaken, it must be urgently phased out of existence (e.g., lead in petrol, asbestos in building supplies, phalates in plastic).

In contrast to democracy which is by definition, anthropocentric and capable only of partial answers to human-biased questions, Sumbiocracy requires those who govern (Sumbiocrats) to have a thorough understanding of total ecosystems and the symbiotic interrelationships that enable them to function. In order to ‘live together’ humans must exercise their intelligence and power to achieve overall harmony in a community of interests. Within a Sumbiocracy, Earth Rulers must ponder what kind of mutualistic development is permissible to enable living together via the answers to the following questions:

  • Is there full recyclability of all inputs and outputs?
  • Are we using safe and socially just forms of renewable energy?
  • Do we have full and harmonious integration with biogeochemical systems at all scales?
  • Have we achieved the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of this enterprise?
  • Are all species, great and small, having their interests taken into account?
  • Do we have a harmony or balance of interests?

Governance by scientifically and traditionally informed humans (including citizen science) at all places and all scales determines the interconnections between elements of complex systems before they commit to action that impacts system health. We must remember that place is critical to effective sumbiocracy as only those with close and intimate ties to particular places are in a position to know their place and make decisions about its health and vitality.

Sumbiocracy is a form of government where humans govern for all the reciprocal relationships of the Earth at all scales from local to global. Organic form (all biodiversity including humans) and organic process (Earth systems) are present in this new form of government. Sumbiocracy is rule for the Earth – by the Earth, so that we might all live together.

We now have a very sophisticated understanding of how the natural world works and, as it was here and functioning before humans evolved as Homo sapiens sapiens, it is we that must fit in with its process and functioning. To understand the conditions of life but to deliberately destroy them by toxic overload, changing the climate for the worse, making formerly healthy ecosystems unfit for life, destroying ecosystems and extirpating species (the 6th Great Extinction), we demonstrate that we are not only Homo non-sapiens, but also some kind of pathological plague on all species on this Earth. We are better than that.

Conclusion

During a relatively short period of human history we have seen the emergence of a growth-addicted industrial-technological society that has achieved its success at the expense of the vitality of the Earth. At the same time as this system has produced global scale pollution, negative climate change, mass extinction and human wealth, it has impoverished and corrupted many of the efforts that have been made to emerge into some sort of harmony or equilibrium with the Earth. The usurpation by a powerful elite, and their instruments such as mass media, of concepts like democracy, sustainability, sustainable development and resilience have all taken place within my lifetime (62 years).

Rather than rehabilitate these now well-abused concepts, I believe it is time to create some new ones; concepts that are urgently needed and very hard, if not impossible to corrupt. The Symbiocene, sumbiocracy and symbiomimicry are all offered in this spirit. Indeed, I can offer one more neologism that might help. E.O. Wilson (1984), and before him, Erich Fromm (1965), gave us the concept of ‘biophilia’ as something to hope for in human nature. Our instinctual love of life and life-like forms would/could prevail over necrophilia and possible ecocide. However, although ‘bio’ means life, it is often seen in the context of a reductionist science that pulls things apart and isolates particularities. I now offer ‘sumbiophilia’ (the love of living together) as an addition to biophilia. Since we evolved within the pre-existing ecological matrix where humans as an intensely social species lived in relative harmony with all other life forms, sumbiophilia must also be deeply ingrained within us. If I am correct, then exiting The Anthropocene and entering The Symbiocene will be a deeply satisfying experience for most humans. As the politics of Sumbiocracy play out and we live with symbiomimicry in all our technologies and habitats, the Earth will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

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 References

Albrecht, Glenn A. (1994). “Ethics, Anarchy and Sustainable Development.” Anarchist Studies, Vol. 2, Autumn, No. 2: 95-118.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2001). “Applied Ethics in Human and Ecosystem Health: The Potential of Ethics and an Ethic of Potentiality.” Ecosystem Health. Vol.7 No. 4, 243-252.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2011) Symbiocene. See: http://healthearth.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/symbiocene.html

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2012a). “The age of solastalgia”: https://theconversation.com/the-age-of-solastalgia-8337

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2012b) Psychoterratic Conditions in a Scientific and Technological World. In Kahn, P.H. and Hasbach, P.H. (eds) Ecopsychology: Science, Totems and the Technological Species. MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2014) Ecopsychology in ‘The Symbiocene’ Ecopsychology Vol. 6, No.1, pp. 58-59. DOI:   10.1089/eco.2013.0091.

Bookchin, M. (1971). Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Palo Alto, Ramparts Press.

Cohen, S.F. (October 10, 1993). Renaissance or Ruin? Yeltin’s Desperation Dismantles Democracy, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1993/10/10/renaissance-or-ruin-yeltsins-desperation-dismantles-democracy/0a743f08-e74a-4334-9737-d917f0a3e583/

Crutzen, P.J., Stoermer, E.F., (2000). The ‘anthropocene’. International Geosphere-Biosphere Program Newsletter. 41, 17–18.

Fraser, J. (2015) Dying Trees Can Send Food to Neighbors of Different Species http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/dying-trees-can-send-food-to-neighbors-of-different-species/

Fromm, E. (1965). The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Gallopin, C. (2006). “Linkages between vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity.” Global Environmental Change. 16, 293−303.

Holling, C.S. (2001). “Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems.” Ecosystems (2001) 4:390-405.

Kropotkin, P. (1987) [1902]. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, London, Freedom Press.

Ráez-Luna, E. (2008). “Third World Inequity, Critical Political Economy, and the Ecosystem Approach.” In The Ecosystem Approach –Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability, edited by David Waltner-Toews, J.J. Kay, and N. Lister, New York: Columbia University Press.

Scofield, B, and Margulis, L. (2012) Psychological Discontent: Self and Science on Our Symbiotic Planet. In Kahn, P.H. and Hasbach, P.H. (eds) Ecopsychology: Science, Totems and the Technological Species. MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

Simard, S.W., Asay, A.K., Beiler, K.J., Bingham, M.A., Deslippe, J.R., He, X., Philip, L.J., Song, Y., Teste, F.P. (2015). “Resource transfer between plants through ectomycorrhizal networks”. In: Mycorrhizal Networks. Edited by T. R. Horton. Springer. See: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272567309_Resource_transfer_between_plants_through_ectomycorrhizal_fungal_networks

Walker, B.H. and D. Salt. (2006). Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington, D.C., USA: Island Press.

Wilson, E.O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge

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About glennaalbrecht

Farmosopher at The Wallaby Farm, NSW: Glenn Albrecht retired as professor of sustainability at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia in June 2014. He is now an Honorary Fellow in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney. He was at the University of Newcastle as Associate Professor of Environmental Studies until December 2008. He is an environmental philosopher with both theoretical and applied interests in the relationship between ecosystem and human health, broadly defined. He has pioneered the research domain of 'psychoterratic' or earth related mental health and emotional conditions with his concept of 'solastalgia' or the lived experience of negative environmental change. Solastalgia has become accepted worldwide as a key concept in understanding the impact of environmental change in academic, creative arts, social impact assessment and legal contexts. Glenn Albrecht’s work is now being used extensively in course readings, new research theses and academic research in many disciplines including geography, philosophy and environmental studies. His work is also being published in languages other than English. He has publications in the field of animal ethics and has published on the ethics of relocating endangered species in the face of climate change pressures and the ethics of the thoroughbred horse industry worldwide With colleagues, Nick Higginbotham (University of Newcastle) and Linda Connor (Sydney University) under Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants, he has researched the psycho-cultural impact of mining in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW, Australia and the impact of climate change on communities, again in the Hunter Region. He has researched the social impact of gas fracking and coal mining on people and communities in the Gloucester region of NSW. Glenn has also been involved as a Chief Investigator in an ARC Discovery Grant Project on the social and ethical aspects of the thoroughbred horse industry worldwide and was a partner investigator on ARC Linkage Grant funded research on the ethics of feral buffalo control in Arnhem Land. He has held an NCCARF grant at Murdoch University which studied the likely impact of climate change on water provision in two inland cities (Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie). Glenn Albrecht is also a pioneer of transdisciplinary thinking and, with Higginbotham and Connor, produced a major book on this topic, Health Social Science: A Transdisciplinary and Complexity Perspective with Oxford University Press in 2001. His current major transdisciplinary research interest, the positive and negative psychological, emotional and cultural relationships people have to place and its transformation is one that sees him having a national and international research profile in an emergent field of academic inquiry where he has been recognised as a global pioneer. International citations to his academic productions are increasing annually and references to his psychoterratic concepts (particularly solastalgia) in global philosophical discussion, art and culture is now too extensive to fully document. New concepts such as his idea of ‘The Symbiocene’ are also attracting international interest. Glenn now works as a ‘farmosopher’ on Wallaby Farm in the Hunter Region of NSW. He continues to research and publish in his chosen fields. He is currently writing a book for Cornell University Press, Earth Emotions, an overview of his scholarly and public contributions to psychoterratic issues.
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44 Responses to Exiting The Anthropocene and Entering The Symbiocene.

  1. wow! well written, well referenced!
    need to add a bit of Permaculture!
    but amazing work, thanks!

    Like

    • Hi, I do a bit of permaculture at Wallaby Farm. Mind you, the chickens are little bulldozers that can destroy a vege patch in no time. However, I like their eggs and their shit for the gardens so all is forgiven. I will add more material as I can and yes, permaculture and ecoagriculture will be part of the picture. See: http://www.thefieldguides.com.au/features/eat-your-greens/

      Like

      • Doone Wyborn says:

        Humans will be forced to contract to a permanent agricultural system of sustainbility. Another term that could be used is the Permacene.

        Like

      • Thanks Doone, I like permaculture and the idea of the Permacene, however, I fear The Permacene will suffer the same fate as other terms such as sustainability; ‘evil’ easily appropriates it and makes it’s one-sided view the only thing that is ‘permanent’ or ‘sustainable’. Sumbiosic thoughts and actions in The Symbiocene are by-definition, inter-relational and mutually supporting and cannot be so easily appropriated by those who see only the short-term, self-interest and monoculture as comprising their world-view. The very definition of The Symbiocene challenges all past anthropocentric world views … that is, I hope, its radical edge over other terms/concepts that are now being considered.

        Like

  2. Stevie says:

    Hi Glenn. What an inspiring piece. I recently read an article in Aeon magazine about declaring the Anthropocene era (I found the implications true and terrifying), and Noam Chomsky’s book “On Anarchism.” Although I was very intrigued by Chomsky’s essays, I was discouraged by the potential of social libertarianism ever being realized, namely because no one ever imagines what an alternative to capitalism would look like, let alone an idea as radical as anarchy. At dinner parties, I frequently ask the question of how we might live together in a way that respects life on this planet but am always saddened by the lack of creative response. I think it’s very difficult for people to envision systemic change–too much fear, too much ignorance. And that, of course, is why this piece is so important. You clearly and succinctly summarize the current state of affairs and then offer a starting point to imagine an alternative reality. I love the idea of the Symbiocene. It’s so simple and elegant, and yet rooted in nature. It’s not a lofty ideology. Rather, it taps into what I think is instinctual (or natural) knowledge, even if it’s routinely denied, namely that we ARE nature. By destroying our ecosystem, we’re destroying ourselves. In other words, on a deep level, I think the need for the Symbiocene is a self-evident truth. Anyway, it was a pleasure hearing from you! I just signed up for your updates so I won’t miss a post. Right now I must go attend to Soleil…

    For the wild,

    Stevie

    Like

  3. Steve says:

    I love you for this information. What can I do to help? Please let me know

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Steve, just spread the word and share the ideas. They are free! Thanks for your support.

      Like

      • Is there any kind of social movement promoting these ideas? How can they live beyond words and reach masses in order to provoque the necessary change? In my view, it has to start from the base, and in order to do so, the content, the message must be clear, concise, simple and powerfully transmitted. And a movement/organization could do that.

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      • Alexandre, thanks for your comment. The social movement has started (mainly with artists) but needs people like you to propel it into the future. I am a philosopher so my role has been to generate ideas. I have written elsewhere that it is up to designers, architects, engineers etc etc to apply these ideas and create the material form of The Symbiocene.

        Like

  4. Interesting read you have posted that was recommended by a friend. I only have a small criticism that struck me as I went through it.
    “If, for example, an aspect of human development is known to have a long-term toxic impact on a basic life process such as metabolism, then it simply cannot be permitted to take place or if it is already being undertaken, it must be urgently phased out of existence (e.g., lead in petrol, asbestos in building supplies, phalates in plastic)” … hmmm?, I thought. How about WAR?
    The manufacture of war is huge in pretty much all those toxic destructive areas. and so profitable the money will use the products and fight to survive. … So , I’m thinking that when you says “If I am correct, then exiting The Anthropocene and entering The Symbiocene will be a deeply satisfying experience for most humans”, you missed a transnational aspect that makes it not so nice, nice for a huge number of people. A global mind set change is a nice fantasy at this point in time. Baby steps , so slow and steady is best for most people but this change may be abrupt, due to global environmental changes that are already set like a time bomb.
    Depending on how far we go in the present destructive expansion of poisons and mutations of disease, the “most” will surely not apply without some amazing defusing of that bomb.
    My fingers are crossed for humanity but also realize that natural evolution will demand eventual extinction.

    Like

    • Douglas, I see war as an outcome of greed trumping good living at all sorts of levels. The Middle East is a case in point. Ecosystem destruction and overpopulation lead ultimately to starvation and then to war. I cannot solve such big problems with thoughts about The Symbiocene, but as an alternative to rapid extinction … it is worth considering. If we actually ran our own lives according the the kinds of features of sumbiosity and sumbiosic development that I noted, war would be much less likely. However, to protect ourselves from psychopaths some form of defense is necessary.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I quote:

    “In contrast to democracy which is by definition, anthropocentric and capable only of partial answers to human-biased questions, Sumbiocracy requires those who govern (Sumbiocrats) to have a thorough understanding of total ecosystems and the symbiotic interrelationships that enable them to function. In order to ‘live together’ humans must exercise their intelligence and power to achieve overall harmony in a community of interests.”

    Wich means, the necessity to destroy ignorance, in the sense of perceiving reality as separate things, responsability and true compassion arise from the perception that absolutely everything is interdepedent. Ultimately, we must go beyond the illusion of the limited self, that only seek its own satisfaction. The illusionary egoic state of mind is the main root of all the bad in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Becoming a Sumbiovore and a Sumbiotarian | glennaalbrecht

  7. Neville Ellis says:

    I just introduced a lecture theatre full of eager students to the symbiocene. They liked what they saw, and so do I! Can you send me the article once published?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Makere says:

      I would like that too, please. A wonderful addition to my courses. Thank you for writing this really important response to the discourse. Love it!

      Like

  8. Pingback: Welcome home – Solastalgia, U.S.A.

  9. Pingback: The hitchhiker’s guide to the Symbiocene | glennaalbrecht

  10. Makere says:

    Reblogged this on The Turning Spiral and commented:
    Symbiocene. Maori call it whanaungatanga. Indigenous peoples of Canada use the term “all our relations”. Beautifully written, critically important.

    Like

    • Thanks for the support. I love the idea that other cultures/languages have already named The Symbiocene and its internal relationships. My work has been primarily to get sumbiosic terms into the English language. I have made a start.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Paul Leech says:

    The charm of your piece is it’s creative insightful positivity. Sally Starbuck and I are about to lead a workshop at LUCIDITY festival in Santa Barbara ,where this kind of energy can be synergised, across a wide paltform – of lucid dreaming, art, music ,dance ,science , politics, environmental activism . http://2016.lucidityfestival.com/workshops-presentations/paul-leech-sally-starbuck/ To IMAGINE is to act – kudos , thanks and ‘bon courage ‘ ……………….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ER says:

    Lovely piece, but human nature precludes the symbiocene from ever happening in your full vision. Perhaps pockets here and there. Our brains are not wired for long term thinking and global cooperation. We are only steps away from our evolutionary history where groups more of 100-150 fall apart, and we are entirely focused on immediate threats.

    It would require many more eons of evolution to bring the vast majority of humans to the point of self-awareness and the ability to think long term to make the Symbiocene happen. We don’t have that kind of time.

    And Paris was a sign of nothing other than the ability of high-level politicians to delude themselves. In order to stay below a “catastrophic” 2C+ temperature rise, we’d have to reduce our GG emissions by 10-15% per year starting right NOW. Without that, we will be at 3C, 3.5C, perhaps 4C fairly soon (within a few decades). 10-15% reduction of GG emissions would require a collapse of the fossil-fuel-based economy. 3C or more is not conducive to most human life on this planet. Either way, we will not be going peacefully into the good night of climate disaster.

    I applaud your optimism, but we must face reality and head into a troubled future with all our wits about us.

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    • Yet you are a human and you get it! I suggested that expanding democracy to the global level was not an answer to the problem. Sumbiocracy is intensely local and regional and when we get that right, the global scale will look after itself. I included Paris 2015 as a concession to extreme optimism because I wrote that piece at the same time as the meetings were taking place. You were right to criticise that call.

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    • Paul Leech says:

      You are right Beth,(ER) but I fear ‘dead right’; Floresiana , Devonsonian and Neanderthal are all extinct , a history due failures to adapt, although we carry their genes, (as may our successors in evolution) ? Agreed , we are most likely to repeat that fate , extrapolating . BUT all creative evolutionary culture involves, often unreasonable, projection into the future ; that’s why we respond to Glenna’s piece, as we regard catastrophism as spiritually complacent . Mankind faces a clear and present challenge to evolve, or perish. The misnomer dimension of ‘sapiens sapiens’ has been confounded by many step-changes in our history. Paris 12 12 ’15 may be flawed, but it was a signal moment, in several senses . We will quote Glenna at LUCIDITY.

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  13. mkisliuk says:

    Brilliant! Thank you so much. As someone who researches (and teaches) about the expressive culture (as connected to everything else) of forest people of Central Africa (BaAka) I can say that what they know about a Symboiscene is crucial.

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  14. I echo the comments above, and thank you for drawing the connection to kratos.

    I believe that your Symboiscene is possible, but will rely on a transition of power to the demos … which in contemporary society is reflected in the various civil society movements, large and small, in all the corners to the globe.

    We need to take care not to trade one authoritarian model for another, and whatever we create must be genuinely reflective of Gaia, not some artificial system constructed by the west. It is time we took back the power.

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    • As a pacifist eco-anarchist I hate all forms of authoritarian rule and structure. However, I hinted that democracy, like the other terms that have been usurped and parasitised by the forces of corrumpalism, needs to be replaced by a more inclusive term that does exactly what you want, and includes non-humans in the governing of Gaia.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Danuta Nowak says:

    Glenn, thank you for your work. I never was comfortable with the name Anthropocene, as this implied humans being in leading positions, on top, which is only an illusion. To survive we need humility and we have to start seeing ourselves as part of a much bigger universe than just our human civilisation with its needs. The issue we are discussing is multi-dimensional; seeing only human perspective asks for a failure, as demonstrated in our daily reality. Please never stop on your way. I too will support you. All the best Danuta

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  16. wvanfleet says:

    This set of ideas is so important. The question is how consideration of it can be sped up. I have one suggestion. First, we are talking about what we should and should not be doing. That is ethics. In other words, our species needs to work on a basic ethical philosophy that is drastically different than the one that comes to us naturally, as a part of our basic animal nature, namely, obedience to the most powerful. There is emerging a new kind of ethics, but it is very, very new and has a long way to go. The concept and a suggested new method is described at humanianity.com.

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    • Thank you for commenting. I think that both competition (authoritarian and leader-power) and cooperation (the care and support of unequals) are part of human nature and our evolutionary origins. Both are required for our future evolutionary survival. However, the competitive side has come to dominate quite sharply under Capitalism (a non-natural social system) and now threatens human and non-human life on Earth. I agree that we must work harder to achieve a dominant ethics that builds on our cooperative side and allows it to flourish. So I disagree that we need a new kind of ethic to achive it but agree with the form-shape of what you would like it to do. I wrote about similar themes in a short essay on my old Blog, Healthearth, that I have replaced with this WordPress Blog. It can be found here: http://healthearth.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/emotions-of-climate-change.html

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  21. Cristina says:

    Reblogged this on theendup.

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